Description

Executive summary (official way to TL;DR):

I completed my first computer build in April of last year. My core need in an mITX build was ability to fit in a small desk area with flexibility for travel. At the time, I wasn’t well-versed in the breadth and depth of the options available in the small form factor market. I was most drawn into the console-style cases and selected the Silverstone RVZ02 upon recommendations from guides and builds I studied at the time. When I first opened the package, I was a bit taken aback by its size. It was larger than I expected. However, the price, availability, and features were all at the right spot for me in the hobby. From others’ builds, I was able to maximize the cleanliness and effectiveness of my build (accolades given in my other build log).

One day, while browsing PCPP, I stumbled upon two builds (this one and this one) which featured a short-run (40 units) console-style case that was smaller, better constructed (as short-run boutique cases tend to be), and, most impressive to me, had a single-vented side for all the components (i.e. motherboard and graphics card facing the same way). This case was the Salvo Studios S400. It featured support for mITX motherboards, full-length dual slot graphics cards, and SFX power supplies (I learned this wasn’t to be taken for granted in boutique SFF builds. Cases like the NFC Skyreach 4 Mini, which require smaller and more expensive AC-DC and DC-DC power solutions, are awesome in their own right but would require starting a lot more of my build from scratch). I was smitten with both its form and its function: its open vented nature looked would limit heat build-up. I also hated having to choose between enjoying the view of only one half of my PC at a time (terrible choice, I know). Alas, the S400 was at the end of its run with all units sold. I cursed my timing and brooded dark as the Raven my PC was built in.

I was led by these S400 builds to the Small Form Factor Network and Forum. I found an incredible community of innovators and pioneers. Many of the biggest names in SFF computing have active presences there. I also found the Salvo Studios thread there and leaped in. I saw that a revision for the S400, dubbed the S401, was in the works. Initially, I was on the fence about spending more money on my computer (I’m still a bit bitter with Ryzen-regret having committed to the i5 mere months before the Ryzen-revolution). However, interacting in the forum through the months affirmed my resolve little by little. Finally, the day came when the money was charged and the box arrived!

Disassembly of the RVZ02 was bittersweet but straightforward. I disco’d and unbent all the cables that I had tucked and twisted away those months ago. I also decided to peel the ribbons apart for a bit more cable flexibility at the expense of flatness and becoming more birds’ nest-like. I planned to rebuild over a two-day period but ended up putting nearly everything in on the same day. All of the changes I made from my original RVZ02 build till now were done prior to rebuilding in the S401 (see below).

Assorted upgrades from the original RVZ02 build:

  • Cooler fan has been through several iterations. I had hacked on a loud, but powerful, 92mm Bgears fan. The noise bothered me more than the slight performance boost so I moved to a Noctua NF-A9, also kludged on. The S401’s cooler clearance is less than the RVZ02 so that meant another switch to the Thermalright TY-100 was required. The seller for that also offered 3D printed fan adapter brackets for the Cryorig C7 so I added that on as well for a more professional installation. Unfortunately, I didn’t figure out the whole screw installation thing properly so zipties saved the day. It hasn’t bothered me yet and actually gives a little extra color to a somewhat bland build.

  • On the topic of cooling, the S401 has mounts for 60mm fans so Gelid Silent 6’s are in service via splitter. Cable management is a little hairy up there but nothing is interfering so far.

  • I swore up and down I wouldn’t spend money on silly and useless things like RGB but here we are. I was tired of the dull orange light on the Raven being my only visual indication the machine was on so I contacted a custom modder from a recommendation and I received the RGB strip. The remote doesn’t always respond but for a splash of rainbow joy, it does the job fine. It looks glorious in the vented pattern of the S401.

  • GTX 1070 turned into a GTX 1080. How did that happen?! Incidentally, at the height of the mining craze, the 1070 sold for nearly what I paid for the used 1080 (pre-mining days). Can't really complain.

  • Also, added another SSD. Not sure how that happened either. I'm deciding what to do with it. It might be overkill for putting games on. It may be a good way to experiment with dual-booting. If that fails, maybe I’ll add the games.

  • Pricing of components is a bit all over the map due to the incremental-over-time nature of this build/upgrades. Prices were alright for the time the items were bought. <shrug>

S401 review (included here since custom parts can't be reviewed): A five-star effort from a one-man operation. Volume is significantly less than the Raven and every dimension is slightly shrunken, an elusive goal for an mITX build. Perceived amount of space taken on my desk is a fair bit smaller. Build quality is stellar - as in, it could fall from the stars and probably survive. The galvannealled steel plating used is tougher than nails (not sure if it literally is or not, but I only had one material science class in college). The handle accessory could be used as a weapon in its own right. The handle and feet use the same mounting points which consist of a locking notch and thumbscrew which is an awesome innovation. The feet have a tiny bit of wiggle but nothing that’d contribute to tipping. I’d have no problem using the handle to transport the PC around.

Inside, things can get a bit tight, especially with cable management between the motherboard and PSU. I followed Salvo’s build guide (which is stunning for its quality). Drive clearance is fine behind the graphics card (there are four mounting points for slim 2.5” drives. 3.5” drives are supported but require a shorty card). I used SATA power cable extensions to get power to the drives to minimize interference. Graphics card alignment is a bit tight but it’s in solidly and connected soundly. The RVZ02 used a PCIe riser card; the S401 uses a quality extension ribbon cable. The PSU plug came a bit close to the power button but the pins were bent out of the way and a little spacer was included. Salvo has published a fairly lengthy list of SFX and SFX-L PSU compatibility. Cooler clearance is a little on the short side, so anything much taller than the Cryorig C7 probably won’t make the cut. See below for my comments on temps.

Buttoned up, everything starts up as if I hadn’t done a thing and the look is gorgeous. Salvo offers multiple acrylic side panel options custom laser cut including an option for your own logo or image on the solid side. I have a set of prototype mirrored acrylic panels installed with the default Salvo logo and it’s a spectacle beyond my expectations (I have a set of prototype panels so that’s why you may notice a blemish here and there). I will likely use the default steel panels for travel and installation of the add-on dust filter in case my lack of vacuuming becomes an issue.

I haven’t much hard temperature comparison data to share, at least not scientifically. The numbers seem slightly better than the Raven because of the openness and additional small fans. Noise also seems fairly even despite all the fans now facing me. I’ll keep an eye and ear on things as life goes on. I’ll probably also need a look at my fan curves to see what’s what. I’ve also not tried it with the dust filter.

Swinging over to the website, the base case is $165 which I think is a steal considering the short manufacturing runs, tight build quality, and unique feature set. Accessories like the handle, custom dust filter, fans, and the beautiful acrylic side panels can be added for extra. I think they are great add-ons.

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Comments

  • 19 months ago
  • 3 points

Thanks for posting the size comparison of the rvz02 and the s401. How have you found temps compared to the rvz02? (Sorry just found my answer in your post) Looks great and just that little more portable. Well done +1

  • 19 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks a bunch! A bit further detail: when I first swapped the Noctua NF-A9 for the Thermalright TY-100, things seemed a bit warmer so I went back to stock settings on the 7600K. It was a bit of a warmer day, so that might've made me hit the panic button too soon. My unscientific "comparison" was playing a few games. Both CPU and GPU seemed a few degrees better. I've also tweaked my fan curves a bit hoping to exercise a little more air out of it. Overall, CPU is fine and generally always has been; not much to be done with a loud, hot blower-style video card.

  • 19 months ago
  • 2 points

You can always water cool the 1080 with a G12 or something along those lines but your hardware is still top notch imo and the case is small and unique :(

  • 19 months ago
  • 2 points

Also, (and derailing my own build a bit), have you got any new builds ApocPony? Last I saw of you was your own migration from the Raven to the Shift and then your APU build. When are we going to update our i5's?

  • 19 months ago
  • 2 points

Hey mate, waiting on the Intel 9xxx CPU release and hohumming about getting a 1080 ti or rtx 2080 depending on price and having duel aio's or a closed loop in the upcoming ghost loqeu or Dan c4sfx :) time and money will tell lol

  • 19 months ago
  • 1 point

That sounds awesome! It's been a while since I've heard an update about the Ghost S1. Finding room for a loop in either case would be quite a feat. Personally, I'm kind of thinking Ryzen 2 might be a good stepping stone up, but, as you wisely said, time and money will tell. Mini-ITX version of this new RTX generation or the next would be cool too.

  • 19 months ago
  • 2 points

How do you get those intel stickers? I NEED one of those for my PC!

  • 19 months ago
  • 1 point

If I'm not mistaken, it came in the box with the 7600K way back when I first built it. Corsair included a sticker with the PSU as well. I should put an AMD Ryzen sticker on this build just to mess with people...

  • 18 months ago
  • 2 points

looks great man +1

  • 18 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for coming over and checking it out!

  • 11 months ago
  • 2 points

Nice rebuild.

  • 11 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks!

  • 18 months ago
  • 1 point

Stunning case you've discovered here annasoh323 - I've drooled for some time over the NFC 4 Skyreach Mini (and its predecessors) as well as the DAN A4 series - but I think your discovery here is possibly even better - That said my own pennies are too committed in my shoebox to divert now - so I'll have to keep drooling - anyway I couldn't afford the divorce that would likely ensue . . .

  • 18 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks! I went over to your build and realized that we had already chatted about your build over there. Good to see you around! I was still on my older version of this build in the RVZ02 at the time I typed all that up but the core components are the same. CPU cooler height got even more limited but with the tradeoff of being even more portable. That's true of your "shoebox" as well... I've wondered how much size I'd sacrifice for better cooling. I'm definitely a fan of the extra fans the S401 allowed me to add above the CPU cooler (wow, that was completely unintentional. Sorry pun police). The i5 does alright with a setup like this; an i7 would probably struggle more.

Dan A4 and NFC Skyreach S4 have their advantages. I'm sure there are backpacks that will fit the A4 but not the S401 and vice versa (and they'll all fit the S4). I've not tried packing my S401 yet, though I intend to when I can. I suppose I'm comfortable with saying, as you did, that it's "possibly even better" but only, in the words of Obi-Wan, "from a certain point of view." That said, I would certainly put the S401 up against other cases in its class, like the RVZ02, Node 202, or even the Sentry. IMO, for console-style cases that fit full-length graphics cards and SFX PSUs, this is the one to beat.

I'm hoping Salvo sells these for a while so that it'll be here when the opportunity is ripe for you to rebuild into one. Regardless, thanks for stopping by!

  • 18 months ago
  • 1 point

Good news for anyone wanting to check out the S401: Salvo Studios will be having a mini-sale on Small Business Saturday 2018. There will be an instant coupon code to shave some $$$ off of shipping. Shipping is a fairly significant chunk of change because this case is so well-built (well-built = heavy = difficult to pack and ship cheaply). Hoping this is cool with moderation (didn't see anything against it in Code of Conduct).

  • 16 months ago
  • 1 point

Awesome job squeezing the parts into the new case! Well done.

  • 16 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks! You can probably see where I'm at with some of the things we talked about over on your Louqe build. My Evo (which I bought, unfortunately, during the SSD inflation period) is the one I've been moving videos to for scratch work. Not sure if I'm doing this right exactly. Also, as you can see, my PSU is far from the noisiest thing in my build so I probably won't bother with the kind of fan mod you embarked on. Thanks for stopping by!

  • 15 months ago
  • 1 point

Hi there, I'm also using ML08 case (which is identical to RV02). I'm also looking at this S401. Could you explain how "a single-vented side for all the components" is a good point? Thanks

  • 14 months ago
  • 2 points

Hey, sorry about the delay guisess: haven't checked PCPP in a while. Mainly, it boils down to 1) aesthetics and 2) cooling (discussion below).

The best point in favor, in my eyes, is aesthetics. I like looking at my components and the S401's incredible openness makes for a killer show.

I also believe that thermals are an improvement overall, though this is situational and debatable. For one, the S401's venting is extremely open which makes for improved ventilation over the ML08/RVZ02. The 60mm fans I have over the CPU cooler are an improvement as well but that's only related to the "same-side" characteristic in a derivative sort of way. The fact I have a blower cooler on my video card means that exhausted hot air doesn't get recycled towards the CPU cooler but even if I did have one, I'm not sure what the impact would be. One might expect an ever-so-slight increase in CPU temps. However, the orientation of the CPU cooler fins and openness of the chassis makes me doubt that hot air from the video card would be recycled into the CPU.

The above cooling talking points apply only to the vertical orientation. Given a horizontal orientation, the benefits become much more pronounced. Now, you won't have to choose between giving good air clearance to either your CPU or GPU - you can have both. Traditionally, for a home theater PC in a media center shelf lying horizontally, you would need something to elevate the computer off the bottom shelf to give the bottom component some air. With a single direction for fans, both sides get maximum airflow (just watch the dust).

I don't think I'll get a chance to test since I don't have any plans to upgrade the video card for a long while but if you swing over to SFF Forum, someone there may have some data.

  • 14 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks a lot bro

[comment deleted by staff]
  • 19 months ago
  • 2 points

I think it is too. When I first saw the S400, I couldn't think of a single other case that had that layout, certainly not in the mainstream at least. I've been quite impressed with the variety of ways that folks are able to push the boundaries of size and performance in SFF builds.